Nine Indy stars set for Gold Coast V8 race
26 September 2012
Now that that the IZOD IndyCar Series has wrapped up for the year with victory for Ryan Hunter-Reay, nine of the drivers from this year's championship are looking forward to their traditional post-season end-of-term outing to Australia.
They'll be taking part in the unique international round of the V8 Supercars Championship on the streets of Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast next month.
IndyCar Series runner-up Will Power will be partnering Mark Winterbottom in the #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon, while his Penske team mate and fellow Aussie Ryan Briscoe will be the co-driver for Garth Tander in the #2 HRT Commodore.
"I am really looking forward to coming back to the Gold Coast this year as it is now the only chance I get to race in front of a local crowd," said Power, who missed last year's event after injuring his back in the ill-fated final round of the 2011 IndyCar season at Las Vegas.
"Last year's events aside, I have enjoyed racing at Surfers Paradise for many years and it will be great to team up with Frosty who won there last year in the car I would've been in," Power added. "We are in with a real chance again given the season the team is having and to be driving in the same team as my mate Will and the likes of Mika and Nick is pretty cool. I think we are going to have a lot of fun."
Fellow Frenchmen Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud will also be heading down under for October's ARMOR ALL Gold Coast 600. Last year's Saturday race winner Bourdais will be reunited with Jamie Whincup in the #1 TeamVodafone Commodore, and Pageaud will be sharing the #4 IRWIN Falcon with Lee Holdsworth, with whom he clinched third place in last year's Sunday race.
Britain's Justin Wilson will be teaming up with Ricky Kelly in the #15 Jack Daniel's Commodore, while compatriot Mike Conway will be driving with Taz Douglas in the #30 iSelect Commodore.
"I'm really looking forward to driving alongside Greg," said Wilson, who will be making his first appearance in the event. "I know he's fast and has a never give up attitude. Just from watching on TV you know he's getting everything possible from the car.
"It will be a tough challenge driving a V8 for the first time and I know the level of talent already racing in the series is extremely high, so my goals are to listen to Greg and the team and help them get the best finish possible."
Andretti Autosport team mates Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe will also be joining the party, with Marco in the #7 Jack Daniel's Commodore with Todd Kelly and Hinchcliffe pairing up alongside Alex Premat in the #33 Fujitsu Commodore.
"For me it's a dream come true to get behind the wheel of one of those cars," said Hinchcliffe, who will also be making his début in the event next month. "With the V8 Supercar you probably have just as much horsepower as an IndyCar but a lot more weight, tin-top, closed cock-pit, and the tyres are a lot skinnier with a lot less grip. It's also a pretty gnarly track and we'd like to get the GoDaddy.com sponsored Commodore on the podium for sure, just a V8 car instead of an IndyCar."
The sole representative from the Ganassi Racing stable this year will be Graham Rahal, who will be racing the #51 Pepsi Max Crew Commodore with Greg Murphy. Although it's Rahal's first drive in a V8 Supercar, he's familiar with the Gold Coast having raced in the final Champ Car race to be held there in 2007.
"The Gold Coast has become one of the marquee motorsports events for racing drivers from all disciplines," said Rahal. "To compete with one of the premier teams in the series in my first go at it is a real honour."
As well as the nine IndyCar stars, there are also 11 drivers with F1 experience, including Valentino Liuzzi, Mika Salo, Stephane Sarrazin, Gianni Morbidelli, Franck Montagny, Max Papis, David Braham, Nick Heidfeld and Lucas di Grassi, along with Bourdais and Wilson who have F1 race experience as well as IndyCar.
Other guest drivers competing in the event on 20-21 October are Jeroen Bleekemolen, Nicolas Minassian, Darren Turner and Boris Said.